Tips for Working From Home Based on a Decade of Experience
Everything you need to know
Most of my career I have been working from home and managing a great team of developers who are also working from home. If you just started this practice due to recent COVID-19 developments, hopefully these tips will help you adjust quickly.
Working from home doesn’t mean working on the couch or in bed. Get a chair and a desk. There is a reason why offices have them! If you have an extra room in your home, dedicate that room for work only. If not, dedicate a corner of your bedroom or living room for work.
Follow your normal work routine
Start and end work as if you are in the office. Make sure your work and home times are not convoluted. Take your usual coffee and lunch breaks. Looking for the best at-home coffee makers and coffee? Influensters have you covered there.
Know your video conferencing tools and etiquette
Learn well the features (screen share, drawing on screen etc.) of your video conferencing tools. Test your camera and microphone before the meeting—most software has a test feature where you can do this. While in a meeting and not talking, make sure that your microphone is on mute. Those keyboard strokes could be really annoying! Tip: Have a back-up video conferencing tool. You never know when your trusty system will have an issue or a bug and simply not work. Most companies use multiple software that have video conferencing capabilities such as Lifesize, Zoom, G-Suite, Slack, Webex, GoToMeeting etc.
Bonus tip: Have interesting things on your walls
Having wall art in the room where you take your calls not only look nice on video, but it also reduces the echo in the room and results in a better sound quality.
Get the right hardware
Buy a quality Bluetooth headphone with a built-in microphone. Unfortunately, default computer microphones capture more than your voice—think: the echo in the room as well as sounds from its own speakers. Having a wireless headphone will give you more freedom with your movements and expressions. Tip: Keep a wired backup headphone handy. Technology may fail you in the worst possible time.
Think about your internet speed
The minimum required internet speed for video conferencing is 1.5 Mbps download and upload. However, to be on the safe side, you should have a couple times that. Unless you are paying premium for dedicated bandwidth, you are most likely sharing that speed with your neighbors who are binge-watching something on Netflix.
Also, make sure your wireless router has a clear line of sight to where you work. A bad wireless router location can significantly degrade your internet speed. If you are experiencing connection problems during your video conference, turn off your video and, if possible, ask the other participants to do the same. This will save some bandwidth and allow you to at least hear each other. Tip: If your home internet stops working, you can always rely on your cellular network. And lastly, learn how to create a hotspot with your iPhone or Android device.
Show that pretty face
Try to turn on your video as much as you can—don't forget not all communication is verbal. However, when you're on video, make sure that you don’t look like as if you are in witness protection. Use a desk lamp or a small spotlight if the light in your room is not ideal. Try a light such as this one.